About five blocks from one of our client sites in New York City, on the corner of 28th St and 39th Ave, there is an elementary school. Every school morning, a crossing guard positions herself on that corner to provide traffic control and safe passage for the students.
Her duty is one that is common for almost every school in the country. But it’s not what she does, but it’s how she does it. Every person that walks by gets a sincere smile and a wave from her. Every driver of a car or truck that passes through the intersection gets eye contact from her and yes, a smile and a wave.
What I notice the most is how everything slows down at that intersection. People wave back to her, they stop and talk to her, they notice the children and become more conscious of driving etiquette and safety.
Her smile and wave are powerfully contagious. I bet she generates hundreds of smiles and waves every day, before and after school.
While no one customer service agent can smile and wave to a customer over the phone, (at least without video) one can add a smile (and wave) to their voice. This subtle, yet intangible act improves the inflection in our voices which actually makes us sound happier. We’ve found that customers report being more satisfied on support calls when they talk with happy people. And the research suggests the same.
There’s real customer service value in a smile. Maybe it’s the reason a customer changed their negative tone. Maybe it’s the reason one customer decided to remain a customer. Maybe it’s the reason a customer is more patient. Or maybe it’s the reason one customer has a pleasant rest of the day. In any case, the smile makes our customer service better and a more valuable tool in interacting with customers.